BRINGING UP BABY (AND BUNNY)
I’m sure many house bunny caregivers have come across the same astonishment and prejudice from people that I have since deciding to keep bunnies in the house. When I became pregnant the amount of negative reactions I got trebled as people were convinced that it wouldn’t be hygienic or safe for my new baby to have rabbits in the house. I even had offers to take on my two bunnies (housing them in the garden obviously).
Little did they realise that I’d actually adopted my second house bunny as I was planning for a baby so that she could be company for my bunny while I was preoccupied with a new baby. Now my son is 18 months old I can happily say that both bunnies remained inside, he hasn’t caught anything nasty from them, they haven’t been neglected and he gets on well with them without terrorising or hurting them.
The rabbits were pretty bemused by the new arrival although from early on in my pregnancy my female bunny Rosie became very attention seeking and wanted to cuddle me a lot more. I don’t know if she somehow picked up on the fact that I was pregnant or just the fact that I was behaving differently. Returning from hospital with my new son I dutifully took him in to show Rosie and Archie who were very sulky because they’d been shut in their room for two days and only getting the briefest attention when they were fed and watered. Once the sulks were over they were briefly curious and as long as Harry wasn’t crying they weren’t bothered by him.
During the first six weeks following Harry’s birth I found it very hard give the bunnies any time over and above feeding, watering and cleaning them and so they were left pretty much to their own devices. I am so glad that I had the foresight to get a companion for Archie as he would have been terribly lonely during those early days.
From when he was very tiny I let Harry get to know the bunnies and them him. I helped him touch and stroke them gently and he quickly learnt how to stroke them without hurting them. Rosie quickly became very fond of him and would nudge him and sit by him. As I keep him out of the rabbits’ room they always have somewhere to retreat if they’ve had enough and also the worries about hygiene aren’t so great as most of their droppings are in their room.
I’m convinced the rabbits love Harry as much as he loves them. In the garden they quite happily play a game of chase with him where first he’ll chase one of them and then they seem to turn around and chase him. As he gets older I’m sure that having bunnies is going to teach him a lot about loving and caring for animals and the responsibility that goes with having a pet.
The beauty of having a house rabbit is that Harry can still play with them in all weather and at any time and I don’t think a child will lose interest in a rabbit that he lives with day to day rather than be in a hutch at the bottom of the garden. I hope people aren’t put off from have house bunnies and children as the two really are compatible as long as the rabbits feelings and rights are respected.